A rare talent indeed

Girl catches fish with teethWhen I saw this on page 11A of yesterday’s Oklahoman, my first thought was “That couldn’t have been easy for her, using her teeth to catch a fish.”

The spiritual ancestor of this story, of course, is the famous Captain Spaulding, the African explorer, from the motion picture Animal Crackers (1930): “One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got in my pajamas, I don’t know.” I mean, we’re talking an interpretation with eighty-eight years to back it up, and besides, who’s gonna argue with the likes of Groucho Marx? Certainly not I. But no, that’s not what it meant at all:

Pacu fish caught at Fort Cobb Lake

An 11-year-old girl has quite the fish tale: A rare pacu with human-like teeth chomped down on the worm at the end of her line while she was fishing with her grandparents and brother in an Oklahoma lake.

But Kennedy Smith isn’t exaggerating when she describes her catch. Caddo County Game Warden Tyler Howser confirms that the fish was a pacu, a relative of the piranha that is native to South America and can grow up to 50 pounds (22 kilograms).

Kennedy’s fish weighed about 1 pound (half a kilogram), according to Howser and Kennedy’s grandmother Sandra Whaley.

Kennedy says she initially was “really excited” to have caught a fish Sunday in Fort Cobb Lake, about 55 miles (89 kilometers) southwest of Oklahoma City. She was shocked when the fish bit her grandmother, as Whaley removed the hook from its mouth.

How did this wee but scary beastie arrive here?

Howser said the fish was likely purchased as a pet and was released into the lake when it grew too large for the aquarium of the family that owned it.

This is how species become invasive, guys. Don’t do that.


  1. fillyjonk »

    30 July 2018 · 8:09 pm

    I don’t like that a pacu showed up in an Oklahoma lake. Creepy. Not just because of the invasiveness but can you imagine swimming holes with these things in it? That’s a hard nope from me.

  2. McGehee »

    30 July 2018 · 8:14 pm

    Using one’s teeth to catch a piranha-ish fish strikes me as poetic justice though.

  3. hollyh »

    31 July 2018 · 12:16 pm

    !. McG– Good one.

    2. If you want to read a terrifying tale of invasives, try “The Death and Life of the Great Lakes” by Dan Egan (recently published). It’s an amazing tale of the slow (and sometimes fast)-moving destruction of the Great Lakes (which contain 1/5 of all the available fresh water on the planet, btw).

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